Friday, October 19, 2012

Q&A: Author Lori Sjoberg

LoriSjoberg grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. That diet nourished her imagination, she says, and once adolescence hit, creativity plus hormones added up to a bevy of enticing story ideas. Her debut novel, a paranormal romance called Grave Intentions, will be released by Kensington Publishing in January 2013.

Lori, who also spends time on AgentQuery Connect (which is where I met her), spoke with me via email about her book and her writing life.

Elephant’s Bookshelf: You’ve done a wide variety of things in your adult life--worked in retail, financial services, insurance--and you grew up a lover of science fiction and fantasy. How did that add up to paranormal romance?

Lori Sjoberg: For a while it didn’t add up to much of anything. After college, I got so wrapped up in work (especially during the retail years, when I worked 60-70 hour weeks) I rarely had time to read. And if I did read, it was business related: self-help, industry education, motivational, etc. Strange as it sounds, I was reintroduced to the wonderful world of recreational reading by the wife of my then-boss. She talked me into reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. That reignited my passion for fiction. Recommendations from friends led me to Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse, which opened my eyes to the wonderful worlds of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

EB: Does your work life inform your writing, or is writing a way to basically escape from your work life?

LS: For me, it’s an escape. My job is fairly analytical and structured in nature, so it’s nice to let the creative side come out and play. After a long day at the office, I let the left side of my brain take a breather while the right side gets a workout.

EB: What was it like to see the cover for your novel for the first time?

LS: It was quite a rush, although I must admit it took me a couple minutes to work up the courage to open the attachment. So much hinges on a book’s cover – if it doesn’t catch the eye, the reader might not be interested enough to click on the link. Same thing goes if the cover is hideous. Plus, I’d seriously considered self-publishing before receiving the offer from Kensington Publishing, so I already had a few cover ideas in mind. But the apprehension gave way to happiness and relief when I realized the folks in the art department had gifted me with an eye-catching cover.

EB: Considering how you’d spent some time thinking about the cover, how involved were you in the final decision?

LS: Very little. My editor worked closely with the art department to create the final cover image.

EB: How many manuscripts had you completed before the one that became Grave Intentions?

LS: I completed two full-length manuscripts (and a whole bunch of fan fiction short stories) prior to Grave Intentions. At the moment they’re tucked under the bed, where they will stay until I have the chance to give them a thorough rewrite.

EB: How is the impending release of your novel different from what you expected?

LS: Even though I’d heard about it from some of my author friends, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the time lag between the completion of final revisions and the release date. I was one of those kids who barely made it to Christmas without tearing open a present, so the next couple of months are going to be excruciating.

EB: What's next? Is your next novel in the writing stage, the editing stage, or the pre-production stage?

LS: I’m currently working on the sequel for Grave Intentions. At last check, it’s around 70 percent complete. For better or for worse, I tend to edit while I write. Once the manuscript is complete, I’ll send it to my beta readers for one final round of critiques/revisions before sending it off to my editor. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be submitting it to my editor at the end of this year.

EB: We look forward to seeing and hearing about your progress. Good luck, and thanks for sharing with us!

LS: My pleasure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Q&A: Poet Caroline Hagood

In my meanderings through life, I often catch myself getting distracted by unexpected beauty and wit, especially when I step my toes into the puddles of joy that are writers' blogs.

One writer I discovered quite by accident, Caroline Hagood, has graced the electronic pages of this blog, back when she was still blogging at Culture Sandwich, where she posted poems, book reviews, interviews, and thoughts on art and culture in general. These days, she’s in a Ph.D. program at Fordham University, but she recently had her first book of poetry, Lunatic Speaks published by FutureCycle Press. As the Elephant’s Bookshelf blog begins its new incarnation as a brief rest stop for writers and readers of all stripes, I thought it fitting to allow a poet to deliver the invocation.

EB: How long have you been writing poetry?

CH: I've "written" since I was a dyslexic kid who couldn't read or write for years after everyone else, and my mom was kind and patient enough to write down my early "songs" that only she and my dad could possibly love.

EB: Do you follow a consistent process in your work or do you vary things as the ideas come?

CH: I try to type things into my electronic graveyard--what I call my computer file that's longer than I should ever share, which contains many unformed poem thoughts--every day. Then I try to form a finished poem out of this wreckage once a week. If anyone ever finds this password-protected document, I will feel very embarrassed and very sorry for them.

EB: Much of your work comes across as very personal. Do you fear you expose too much of yourself in your poetry or is there still a layer or two between you and your audience?

CH: There are definitely some layers there. I think people often assume that every (especially first person) poem is autobiographical, but, as others far sharper than I have noted, although there is always some kind of truth there, it just may not be conventionally factual. It would be like reading someone's dreams and thinking they all happened to the dreamer. For instance, although I wrote about it in my collection, I have never received a letter from a dinosaur, although I am very open to it.

And, yes, I fear that I expose too much of myself every day. My whole life is basically one big emotional risk, but I'm usually glad I took it.

EB: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Caroline.

CH: My pleasure.


Monday, October 01, 2012

The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse

Faithful followers, you have not been forgotten. With the summer now in the rear view mirror and October upon us, I present to you the cover of The Fall!

Designed by Calista Taylor, the cover conveys exactly the feel I'd hoped to share. While the orange-hued clouds might be reflecting the fires of destruction in the distance, they might also be tint of the dawn of hope. The collection of fourteen stories by thirteen authors (it just worked out that way, I swear!) includes its share of dystopian images (and yes, more than a couple zombies), but it also includes humor, romance, and the promise of new beginnings.

The book is slated to be released on 10/29 and will be available in electronic form as well as print. If you enjoyed Spring Fevers, you'll be happy to see stories from Mindy McGinnis, Cat Woods, J. Lea López, A.M. Supinger, R.S. Mellette, and myself. But you'll also find several writers who will see their first Elephant's Bookshelf Press stories published, including Jean Oram, R.C. Lewis, Amy Trueblood, Alexandra Tys O'Connor, Patricia Carrillo, Ryan Graudin, and Judy Croome.

I'm very proud of what we've been able to produce, and I want to thank my production team of Cat Woods, Calista Taylor, Jean Oram, Mindy McGinnis, and R.C. Lewis who provided invaluable assistance through the entire process.